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Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 for Beginners

By Stephanie Osmanski

Maybe you’ve heard the terminology before but were never sure what it meant: the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen. Aside from rhyme schemes and alliteration, these two phrases symbolize a lot about our current food and farming industries and our personal health. If you’re slowly becoming more aware about what goes into our food-aggregating, farming, and pesticides, then this is a great place to start. 

The Dirty Dozen is a phrase that refers to 12 “dirty” crops that farmers use the most pesticides on. Alternatively, the Clean Fifteen refers to fifteen crops that use the least amount of pesticides. 

The data isn’t random; it comes from an analysis of the United States government’s Pesticide Data Program report, a pesticide residue monitoring system enacted back in 1991. Every year, a new report is released and while most of the information stays the same, sometimes crops come in at different numbers depending on varying pesticide residue levels.

Keep reading to find out more about the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen!